I was tagged in a Facebook post this morning and asked to list ten games as quickly as I can that stuck with me. Presently I’m not in a space in which to respond to that post, so instead I’m going to run with the idea and put my own special twist on it, so without any further adieu, here’s ten comic book games that have stuck with me over the years.
10) BATMAN: THE VIDEO GAME (NES)
This is a game that rears its head a lot in my work, and for good reason, it’s pretty spectacular. It’s also my earliest memory of playing a video game that was based on a comic book character, though at around five or six I wasn’t quite particularly good at it. That hasn’t stopped me from revisiting it a bunch over the years and eventually conquering this very challenging game, and if anything, I actually appreciate it even more now as an adult than I did as a wide eyed child who ate up every NES game that made its way into our console.
FONDEST MEMORY: Playing with my Tim Burton Batman movie action figure and mimicking the wall jumps in my “HAHAHA” Joker sweat suit.
9) THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN AND ROBIN (SNES)
Believe it or not, I actually wasn’t that big a fan of Batman: The Animated Series growing up; I preferred the FOX Kids X-Men and especially the Spider-Man much more, as those featured super heroes fighting super villains, my young mind I guess not appreciating the layered stories of Batman: The Animated Series and scoffed at the boring episodes of Batman fighting 50’s gangsters. Getting that out of the way, I really, really loved Konami’s The Adventures of Batman and Robin and it was a game that I frequently rented out to play over many a weekend.
FONDEST MEMORY: Playing this while camping with my parents and not knowing the answer to the final Riddle in the maze of the Minotaur.
8) THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (GAME BOY)
While Batman may be the first comic book game I remember playing, this is the first one I ever owned. We went camping a lot growing up and thus my Game Boy become a cherished possession. During a family vacation camping trip we took a day off from our camper to visit Gander, a town in Newfoundland for those not familiar with Newfoundland geography, and I bought this game at a Canadian Tire (SIDE NOTE: Do people in Canada remember when Canadian Tire sold video games?) This was one of the earliest Game Boy games I owned (fifth by my recollection behind Tetris, Balloon Kid, Super Mario Land and F1 Race that I won in a bag of chips) and was a big deal to me because for a kid who grew up on the 60’s Spider-Man cartoon, playing a Spider-Man game was beyond, well, amazing.
FONDEST MEMORY: ACTUALLY finishing this game close to the time when I bought it (I didn’t finish a lot of games as a kid)
7) SPIDER-MAN/VENOM: MAXIMUM CARNAGE (SNES)
This game hit at just the right time for me, as it showed up right around the time when FOX’s Spider-Man animated series hit the airwaves with its rocking theme song and recycled animation (c’mon, I even noticed it at 11 guys.) I can’t forget that special red cartridge I rented out from the video store across the street from my Nan’s and pining for this game for Christmas that year but not getting it. That didn’t stop me from renting a lot and humming the various stage level music while playing with my Spider-Man action figures.
FONDEST MEMORY: Getting to Carnage and beating him…two years ago.
6) SPIDER-MAN AND THE X-MEN IN ARCADE’S REVENGE (SNES)
I think a lot of my nostalgic memories for this game came across in my review, but to sum them up, I remember seeing this game in magazines and wanting to play it incredibly bad…then I played it and really hated it, despite not wanting to. It was hard then, heck, it’s still hard now even with years of sharpened video game skills under my belt.
FONDEST MEMORY: Practising this game all summer this year to not only get past the first few intro levels, but beating Arcade!
5) SPIDER-MAN THE ANIMATED SERIES (SNES)
Real talk: This game is bbbbbaaaaadddd, but then you’re an 11 year old who went to school with a fanny pack filled to the brim with Spider-Man toys and saw ads in comics as well as magazines stating “20 villains in 1 game!,” it became the single most coveted present for your birthday that year (thanks Mom, by the way.) I didn’t ever get to own a lot of video games growing up, so for the ones I actually got to own, I squeezed every last bit of enjoyment from them as possible, even when they weren’t the best. I ended up finishing this on every difficulty imagineable countless times.
FONDEST MEMORY: The music from the level 4 carnival stage (O-WEEEE-OOO HAHAHA)
4) MARVEL COMICS X-MEN VS. STREET FIGHTER (PSOne)
When consoles switched from 2-D to 3-D, I didn’t even think about getting a PlayStation as I grew up on Nintendo. It was a mistake that made me miss out on a lot of great games that I fortunately got to catch up on in the twilight years of the system. In Christmas 1999 my brother was the first one in the family to get a system that wasn’t a Nintendo branded in his first PlayStation. He got a lot of games from friends and family that year, but one game we managed to squeeze in a lot of matches in was X-Men Vs. Street Fighter. This was the first Capcom fighter I had played since Super Street Fighter II on the SNES, and I remember going back to Street Fighter Alpha 1 and thinking how slow it was compared to the over the top moves and super jumps in X-Men Vs. Street Fighter. Over the next few years we would eventually sample all the “Vs.” games the system had to offer, but nothing quite matched up to the first Marvel/Capcom crossover.
FONDEST MEMORY: My late Uncle Kev seeing “5 Hit” come on screen and thinking it said “Shit”; Not buying X-Men: Children of the Atom when it was a bargain game at Wal-Mart (that game is EXPENSIVE now)
3) SPIDER-MAN 2000 (PSOne)
It was around 1999 when it hit me that maybe there was more to video games than what Nintendo had to offer. It was time to stop reading Nintendo Power and switch to EGM and explore new horizons. The following year saw the debut of the PS2 to North American shores, but it was also perhaps the year when a lot of companies were giving their all on the original PSOne: Final Fantasy IX, Dino Crisis 2, Chrono Cross, MegaMan Legends 2, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 and of course, Spider-Man from Activision and Neversoft. A lot of my exposure to this game was on TV commercials during the Electric Playground, as the co-host Tommy Tallarico, now of Video Games Live concert fame, composed the music for the game. I never got to play on my own console until a few months later due to only having an N64, but I’ll never forget playing this for the first time when I went to visit my brother in Ottawa that year.
FONDEST MEMORY: Completing the game in a matter of days during a week’s vacation from school.
2) SPIDER-MAN THE MOVIE (GAMECUBE)
If you haven’t realized this far into the list, I kinda, really love Spider-Man. 2002 was the YEAR of Spider-Man for me as I counted down the days to when the movie came out while everyone else in Grade 12 was eagerly anticipating prom. Normal eighteen year old’s go out drinking in defiance of their parents wishes, me? I stayed in, rewatching the trailer for Spider-Man I taped off of TV, marathoned old recordings of the 90’s cartoon, played the PSOne game on an endless loop, I even somehow convinced my prom date to wear a Spider-Man pin on her dress (Natalie Austin, you rule!) Not owning a PS2, GameCube, or Xbox killed me knowing there was a new Spider-Man game out, so I tracked down a GameCube for rent at a local gas station. Similar to my rose colored glasses for the Spider-Man animated series game, I overlooked a lot of the faults with this game that I noticed when I eventually got my own PS2: The swinging is clunky, the game is really hard on anything other than easy, Tobey Maguire’s lines are phoned in, and it’s also really short, but you know what? It was the year of Spider-Man, and in my books, this was better than Metal Gear Solid 2, Ico, Resident Evil, and whatever top tier games were out at the time.
FONDEST MEMORY: Picking up a GameCube controller, popping this in and being whisked back to 2002 all over again.
1) BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY (XBOX 360)
Being an obsessive video game fan, one hobby I didn’t want to fall back into was collecting comics, something I hadn’t done since the early 2000’s. However with DC rebooting its line with the New 52, Marvel’s onslaught of great films and the October release of Batman: Arkham City, I couldn’t hold back the beast any longer. Late 2011 marked the year I dove back into the world of comics hardcore and it’s a decision that my shelves regret, but not me personally. I enjoyed Batman: Arkham Asylum as a fan of Batman in alternate media (the Nolan films, the animated series) but when City arrived, it was a time when I couldn’t consume enough comic book anything: games, trades, issues, you name it. I was also much more confident of the quality of Batman: Arkham City after I was blown away by how good Batman: Arkham Asylum was. Upon completion of Batman: Arkham City, I wanted to play even more comic book games which turned into a new sub-hobby and eventually the website you’re on right now.
FONDEST MEMORY: Having the seeds planted that let to this website.